I apologize for my absence the past few weeks, but I was squatting at the Betty Ford Clinic in a serious rehab program.
Unbeknownst to me (that would be called denial) in addition to my toxic, time consuming addiction to Facebook (who, by the way, is okay with our just being “friends”), I also discovered, when I no longer had Facebook to be my “other relationship,” that I had a pretty sick and needy relationship with my cell phone.
No, I am not one of the people in Southern California who like to play Russian Roulette with the CHP by not using a hands-free device while blathering and putting on mascara. But, sadly, I am someone who has such ADD issues that the glimmer of any sort of flashing red light or the sound of a tiny “ting” in my general vicinity has me behaving like one of those hyperactive teenage girls waiting for the Beatles to arrive at JFK.
“Someone just texted me!!!”
“Damn. I can’t see who emailed me….I’m merging left!!”
What was my breaking point?
I’ll tell you: James made me do it.
See, I have this super-intelligent and intuitive boyfriend who is so in tune and aware of things that he is a heartbeat away from being the superhero in his own comic book (and Jon Favreau film). Even his nose is bionic – hence his nickname, Toucan Sam. Nothing gets by him, so the final straw with me and my cell phone issues was when we were having dinner and I kept looking down at my lap, pretending that there were crumbs on it (I was eating soup) while I tried to respond to the latest gossip a friend had texted me about a mutual acquaintance we deemed “annoying.”
“Do you realize that you are doing the very thing you that drives you crazy when you see other people doing it?” was my astute boyfriends only comment.
WHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAT?! How dare you….be right?!!
But what really did it was one afternoon while circling the parking lot at my local Barnes & Noble, I saw what can only be described as a “Seeing Eye Mom” who was guiding her all-engrossed ten year old son as they negotiated their way through the parking spaces (and moving vehicles) while his head remained down and his fingers on fire from texting.
All I could think of was Eric Stoltz guiding Laura Dern to the cafeteria at the summer camp for blind kids in Mask. It was appalling. The kid had no time or interest in his mom – just in the virtual note passing going on. Why didn’t Mommy grab the phone and put it in her handbag…and the kid in the trunk?!
I don’t get it.
So, that was the final straw. Oh, and the fact that I now save about fifty bucks a month not being accessible to receiving emails and texts on my cell phone. I’m actually using my phone for the reason I got it in the first place: to talk. WOW.
So, I’ve been clean and sober for almost a month and I’ve gotta tell you – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Know why? Because when I was letting my cell phone run my life with its every hiccup, bell, or Monkees ringtone, it was the sure-fire way to keep me from being completely present and connected with who or what was in front of me. And I’m not alone.
Case and point: The other day on my walk, I saw a father riding a bike with his young daughter and – yep – talking on the phone. Why would you be out on a beautiful Saturday with your adorable kid and feel the need to talk to someone else?
Or what about the mother pushing her baby in its stroller while she texts instead of looking into the eyes of her beautiful child (or at the red light she’s almost crossing on)? It made me sad.
I personally believe that cell phones are Satan’s way of destroying the world. And texting creeps me out if, for no other reason, because I am the daughter of an esteemed English teacher.
I’m sorry – “UR” now constitutes “you’re” – SRSLY? Every time I see a teenager texting, I see all the years of learning how to speak and spell melting like an Eskimo Pie on the hot pavement.
Oh, and don’t get me started the “performance art” we all get to witness when someone, who loves the sound of their voice a little too much, invites all of us to participate in what I love to call “30-Way Calling.”
Have you noticed how the phone booth is pretty much non-existent these days? I always thought that phone booths existed for people to have some privacy, but with the popularity of cell phones, there’s no longer such a thing as privacy. In the supermarket, in line at Starbucks, and once, I actually heard someone’s phone ring during a WEDDING.
Luckily, it wasn’t the groom calling in sick … but my point is this: I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, so I don’t believe that someone’s day honestly revolves around them having to get a hold of me. Please, people….let’s stop flattering ourselves, can we? And let’s also remember what it feels like to enjoy the anticipation of something.
Remember what it was like having to wait a whole week to get photos back and to see how many heads our mothers cut off with her Kodak Pocket 10 Instamatic? It felt like forever, but when those photos were ready, wow! There is so little real anticipation for, well, pretty much anything anymore. Carly Simon, where are you when we need you?
When did we stop appreciating being happily surprised?!
Now that I don’t schlep my cell phone everywhere I go (I actually used to bring it with me on my daily walks to the beach – talk about missing life in a big way), I notice that I’m less agitated and I actually have breathing time with no one hovering, lurking, and stalking me with an interruption. And once you’re off the cell phone addiction, it’s amazing what you see and how it confirms that detoxing from it was a very wise decision.
What in the hell did we do on our daily walks before the required cell phone or audio accessories we now feel we can’t live (or walk) without? Last week, when I realized that I had forgotten to recharge my iPod, I broke out in a cold sweat.
“But what will I listen to?!” (read: what can distract me?)
How about this?
The breeze? The ocean? The birds? Or that amazing school of dolphins rarely seen frolicking with those lucky surfers?
Or even better – the ideas and thoughts our minds (and hearts) would love to share with us but can’t because we are so over-stimulated that we have no room to hear “the still voice for God” that’s been patiently waiting to share all sorts of amazing things with us, if we’d just shut up?
I realized after one walk without my iPod that it was the most creative time I had that day, if not week. During this walk, I made the room for new things to take root. And I did it without a venti Starbucks cup in one hand, too.
(Have you noticed that the people who have to have their venti for their walk rarely actually drink it? Guess why? Because we were not meant to walk and caffeinate at the same time. PROPS!)
I guess that’s the punch line of this installment.
We rely on too many props. Whether it’s a cell phone, bad performance art, unnecessary drama, or a goofy Starbucks cup.
Maybe we if can all start traveling a little lighter, there will be more opportunities for the Universe to light our way to authenticity.
Less is definitely more.